A few weeks ago, security researcher Trammell Hudson discovered a vulnerability in Apple’s low-level firmware that could allow a rogue Thunderbolt device to flash its own code to a Mac’s boot ROM. This type of bootkit, dubbed “Thunderstrike” since it relies on Thunderbolt IO as an attack vector, would be very difficult to remove or even detect.
Thunderstrike works by injecting an Option ROM into a Mac’s EFI. What that essentially means is that a malicious Thunderbolt device can replace Apple’s firmware with its own rogue version, without leaving any traces. Since this type of firmware isn’t stored on the hard drive, simply reinstalling the OS would not remove Thunderstrike. Furthermore, Thunderstrike replaces Apple’s cryptographic signature, which is used to verify firmware integrity. Fortunately for Mac users, the latest OS X beta includes a fix for Thunderstrike, and a public patch shouldn’t be too far away.
UPDATE: OS X 10.10.2 has been released to the public. If you own a Mac, simply go to the Mac App Store to download and install the update.
Thunderstrike Patched in OS X 10.10.2 Beta
Since Thunderstrike requires physical access to a target machine, the issue is not as serious as it could have been. Furthermore, aside from Thunderstrike, there are no known Mac bootkits in the wild, and Thunderstrike is mainly a proof-of-concept, anyway. That being said, the vulnerability still exists, and Hudson has discussed the patch with Apple.
Hudson demonstrated his proof-of-concept at the Chaos Communication Congress in December. According to his research, Apple’s latest Mac Minis and Retina 5K iMacs are already immune to Thunderstrike, and Apple’s engineers have been developing a patch for the rest of the Mac product line. According to a report from Apple news site iMore,
“To secure against Thunderstrike, Apple had to change the code to not only prevent the Mac’s boot ROM from being replaced, but also to prevent it from being rolled back to a state where the attack would be possible again. According to people with access to the latest beta of OS X 10.10.2 who are familiar with Thunderstrike and how it works, that’s exactly the deep, layered process that’s been completed.”
However, Hudson also told Ars Technica that he hasn’t yet tested Apple’s latest patch.
“The version [of the patch] that I tested in Hamburg was still subject to downgrade attacks and I demonstrated it for Apple… Hopefully they have fixed that bit, although the fact that they are leaving Option ROMs enabled at all really worries me.”
Other Unrelated Vulnerabilities Fixed in 10.10.2
Google’s Project Zero security research team recently disclosed three OS X vulnerabilities to the public (here, here, and here). Project Zero offers companies a 90-day window to fix vulnerabilities before disclosing them to the public – a policy designed to give companies ample time to address security issues while also incentivising them to provide patches in a timely manner. On their own, these exploits aren’t that critical as they require some sort of access to the target machine, either physical or remote. However, these exploits can potentially be combined with other attacks to escalate privileges and take over the target machine. One of the vulnerabilities was already fixed with the release of OS X Yosemite (10.10), and the other two appear to have been fixed in 10.10.2.
While it’s important to be informed of new vulnerabilities, most Mac users shouldn’t have anything to worry about. These exploits require direct access to target machines, and patches are already on the way.
Images from Shutterstock.
Uber Is Paying Hackers to Keep Quiet
Uber Technologies Inc. has reportedly paid hackers to delete scores of private data stolen from the company in a security breach that was concealed for over a year. The revelation provides further confirmation that, when it comes to cyber security, crime does pay.
Massive Data Breach
According to Bloomberg Technology, hackers retrieved the personal data of 57 million Uber customers and drivers at some point last year. Nobody heard about it because the rideshare company paid the hackers $100,000 to keep quiet. A purge at the front office of Uber also ensured that the massive cyber breach was kept under wraps.
The compromised data was from October 2016 and included the names, phone numbers and addressed of 50 million Uber riders globally. About seven million drivers had their personal information accessed as well.
At the time of the cyber attack, Uber was inundated with a slew of legal issues stemming from alleged privacy violations. Rather than shine even more negative spotlight on the company, Uber executives decided to pay hackers to stay quiet.
“None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it,” Dara Khosrowshahi, who took over as CEO in September, said in a statement that was published by Bloomberg. “We are changing the way we do business.”
Hackers have done a masterful job infiltrating companies and governments in recent years. As a reminder, recent cyber attacks levied against Yahoo!, Target Corp and Equifax Inc. dwarf Uber’s 57 million compromised accounts.
Various reports indicate that cyber attacks are bleeding the global economy dry. One report, issued by the World Economic Forum, suggests that cyber crime cost the world economy $445 billion in 2016. If cyber crime were its own market cap, it would exceed Microsoft Inc., Facebook Inc. and ExxonMobil Corp
The Fall of Uber?
Uber revolutionized the ride-hailing business over the span of seven years by giving more power to the consumer. Several missteps later, the company finds itself in legal hot water, with its future appearing less certain than it did just one year ago.
The rideshare company faces at least five U.S. probes ranging from bribes to illicit software and right up to unethical pricing schemes. According to another Bloomberg report, Uber is under investigation for violating price transparency regulations, not to mention the alleged theft of documents for Google’s autonomous cars.
Some governments are sensing weakness in the ride-hailing service, and are moving toward banning the Uber app entirely. London is the most prominent example of a city that has taken definitive steps to outlaw the service over a “lack of corporate responsibility.”
Even with its legal troubles, Uber is a revolutionary technology that has influenced a bevy of other innovations aimed at improving the human experience.
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.
The Pirate Bay is Hijacking PCs to Stealth-Mine Cryptocurrency
For the second time in as many months, The Pirate Bay has been caught mining cryptocurrency on your computer without consent. The torrent platform was actually test-driving cryptocurrency mining in your browser – no doubt a lucrative revenue stream.
The Pirates Are At It Again
The news was later confirmed by Bleeping Computer, which reported that,”The Pirate Bay, the internet’s largest torrent portal, is back at running a cryptocurrency miner after it previously ran a short test in mid-September.”
Estimates indicate that the scheme has earned the pirates a total of $43,000 over a three-week period.
Users had no way to opt their computers out of being test-driven by the torrent network. Back in September, The Pirate Bay got away by telling people it was just a test. The site’s owners cannot use the same excuse this time around.
CoinHive advises websites to let their visitors know their browser is being used to mine cryptocurrency.
“We’re a bit saddened to see that some of our customers integrate CoinHive into their pages without disclosing to their users what’s going on, let alone asking for their permission,” the company said.
The good news is most ad-blockers and antivirus programs will block CoinHive, given its recent abuses. That means not all visitors of The Pirate Pay were being used as a conduit for mining Monero.
Monero Joins Global Crypto Rally
The value of Monero (XMR) shot up nearly 8% on Friday, and was last seen trading at $94.17. With more than 15.2 million XMR tokens in circulation, the total market cap for Monero is $1.4 billion, according to CoinMarketCap. That’s enough for ninth on the global cryptocurrency list.
Twelve cryptos have now crossed the $1 billion valuation mark. A handful of others have made their way north of $500 million.
Ethereum Notches Two-Month High as Bitcoin Offspring Triggers Volatility
Digital currency Ethereum climbed to a two-month high on Monday, taking some of the heat off Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash, which have slumped since the weekend.
Ethereum Forges Higher Path
Concerns over Bitcoin created a favourable tailwind for Ethereum (ETH/USD), which is the world’s No. 2 digital currency by total assets. Ether’s price topped $340.00 on Monday and later settled at $323.54. That was the highest since June 20.
At its peak, ether was up 10% on the day and 70% for the month of August.
The ETH/USD was last down 2.2% at $315.02, according to Bitfinex. Prices are due for a brisk recovery, based on the daily momentum indicators.
Fractured Bitcoin Community
Bitcoin and its offshoot, Bitcoin Cash, retreated on Monday following a volatile weekend. The BTC/USD slumped at the start of the week and was down more than 3% on Tuesday, with prices falling below $3,900.00. Just last week, Bitcoin was trading at new records near $4,500.00.
Bitcoin Cash, which emerged after the Aug. 1 hard fork, climbed to new records on Saturday, but has been in free-fall ever since. The BTH was down another 20% on Tuesday to $594.49, according to CoinMarketCap. Its total market value has dropped by several billion over the past two days.
Analysts say that a “fractured” Bitcoin community has made Ethereum a more attractive bet this week. The ether token has shown remarkable poise over the past seven days, despite trading well shy of a new record.
Other drivers behind Ethereum’s advance are steady demand from South Korean investors and growing confidence in a smooth upgrade for the the ETH network. The upgrade, which has been dubbed “Metropolis,” is expected in the next several weeks. Its key benefits include tighter transaction privacy and greater efficiency.
Ethereum Prices Unaffected by ICO Heist
Fin-tech developer Enigma was on the receiving end of a cyber-heist on Monday after hackers took over the company’s website, mailing list and instant messaging platforms. The hack occurred three weeks before Enigma’s planned Initial Coin Offering (ICO) for September 11.
In addition to defacing the company’s website, the hackers pushed a special “pre-sale” ahead of the ICO. While many users realized it was a scam, 1,492 ether tokens – valued at $495,000 – were directed into the hackers’ cryptocurrency wallet by unsuspecting backers.
The irony in all this is that Engima is a cryptography company that prides itself on top-notch security protocols. The company issued a statement that its servers had not been compromised.
- Technical Analysis: Litecoin Continues Surge as Bi...
- Trade Recommendation: Stellar
- Asian Market Update – Tuesday: Litecoin price skyr...
- Bitcoin Plunges $2,000 on Eve of Futures Contract
- Monero Forges Ahead as Prices Cross $290
- Welcome to the Party
- Ethereum Flirts With Record Highs as Buterin Compa...
- Trade Recommendation: Bitcoin Cash December 12, 2017
- Is Bitcoin Stealing Gold’s Luster? December 12, 2017
- Asian Market Update – Tuesday: Litecoin price skyrockets despite creator’s warning; Asian stocks down December 12, 2017
- Is Bitcoin Driving Gold Prices Lower? December 12, 2017
- Monero Forges Ahead as Prices Cross $290 December 12, 2017
- Ethereum Flirts With Record Highs as Buterin Compares Crypto Surge to Salvator Mundi Auction December 12, 2017
- Altcoin Investing Strategy as Futures Hit the Market December 12, 2017
- Companies are Lining Up to Launch Bitcoin ETF, According to SEC December 12, 2017
- Technical Analysis: Litecoin Continues Surge as Bitcoin Tests Highs December 11, 2017
- Trade Recommendation: Ride ETN and EW on Breakout December 11, 2017
A part of CCN
Analysis1 week ago
Long-Term Cryptocurrency Analysis: A Major Top Could Be In
Altcoins1 week ago
IOTA Doing Big Things as Microsoft Partnership Announced
Analysis3 days ago
Long-Term Cryptocurrency Analysis: Look Out Below?
Recommendations4 days ago
Trade Recommendation: Litecoin
Cryptocurrencies1 week ago
Trade Recommendation: Neo
Analysis1 week ago
$100 Litecoin Looks Poised for Greater Upside
Cryptocurrencies1 week ago
Trade Recommendation: Zcash
Cryptocurrencies4 days ago
Trade Recommendation: Stellar